Welcome back for the sixth installment of my series on the top NHL fantasy hockey players of 2019/20, where I dive deep into how they performed this year and try to project what their 2020/21 season might look like. You can go back and read my previous article on Nathan Mackinnon here. Let’s get the basics out of the way:
Unofficial Attractiveness Score (as judged by my wife): 0/10 (I believe the term “sexual predator” was used when she described his appearance)
Similar to Nathan Mackinnon, Marchand has posted three straight seasons of elite-level point production including finishing 6th and 5th in league scoring the past two years, respectively. Marchand is well known for his agitating style and a host of dirty plays, but as fantasy players the only thing that matters is that he keeps putting up these monster seasons. He enjoys one of the best situations in the league, skating on a line with two other legitimate stars in David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron for a top-flight team. Let’s dig a little deeper:
Marchand posted his lowest IPP mark of the past 5 years at 70.16%, a good sign for some positive regression. Of course we do need to account for the fact that Marchand is now 31 and will be 32 by the time next season starts, and many a star has begun to fade around this age. Marchand has been remarkably consistent over the past three years, with the total points/60 varying by just 0.07 over that period and his ixG/60 by just 0.05. One worrying trend is the reduced goals/60 rate, declining in both 2018/19 and 2019/20. Marchand’s individual chances for rates also declined off his 100-point 2018/19 campaign, while his team chances for rates with him on the ice held constant or even improved. This brings us to an important question: did Marchand’s ability to drive play actually decrease this season (explaining the IPP drop and iCF rate drops) and he was simply boosted by David Pastrnak’s continued ascent to superstar status? Let’s check out the WOWY chart from http://www.hockeyviz.com:
From this graph we see Pastrnak’s score-adjusted shots for/60 decrease significantly without Marchand on the ice, while Marchand’s rate only decreases slightly without Pastrnak. In fact, Patrice Bergeron’s absence hurts Marchand more than Pastrnak’s. Now, because Pastrnak is an elite goal-scorer it certainly is to Marchand’s benefit to have him around to convert these chances to goals, but the relationship is significant enough to take note of.
So we’re left with some conflicting data; Marchand appears to drive play just fine without Pastrnak, but his individual chances for rates have decreased. All this says to me is that there are some potential warning signs that Marchand could be at the start of his decline, but that it’s not likely to be sudden or make you sorry you chose him in the first round of your 2020/21 fantasy draft. I’ll put his floor at 84 points for 2020/21, with a ceiling at 101 points (which would match his PPG rate for 2019/20).
2020/21 Projection: 77 GP, 31 G, 57 A, 88 PTS
- Marchand is set up for success (on one of the best lines on one of the best teams in the league)
- Low IPP, but reduced individual chances for rates and goal rates are cause for concern at his age
- Still drives chances for with and without Pastrnak
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